Friday, February 27, 2015

Guess What's Back- that's right the ol' Quick Takes

Well, well, well.... aren't we just in the THICK OF IT?!?!  There's more I can say, but I'll just leave it at this, every.single.Friday, it feels as though I have made it through a battle, clawing my way till 5:30 pm when Aaron comes home to relieve me for the weekend.  Yes, my friends, that's where we are at.

Aaron, the husband has been such a partner the last couple weeks I can't even describe it. The type of partner who is getting up with the kids EVERY morning, making me breakfast, cleaning the house, running the laundry, completely taking over at 5:30 pm when he gets home... etc... THAT kind of partner.  Whenever I get discouraged, Aaron reminds that we are 'Team Wilkerson...we can do anything'.  These last couple weeks, he has really put his money where his mouth is.

Can't believe it's been over a month since Paul entered into eternal life.  I am also taken back by how often I will burst into tears.  The little things that trigger the reality that my friend is no longer here in his physical form on earth. It's still so very hard.  The trickiest thing to process though is a bit unexpected.  It seems so weird to me that through the last 17 years, God always knew that Paul would be taken at 34.  I've told you that faith was always a part of my friendships in college and post.  It's hard to process that with each lovely memory, God knew the whole time they were limited.  Truth be told, it makes me kind of angry.  I know the anger is irrational.   But it's there. I don't stay with it.  But it is there.

On a much happier note...the boys LOVED wearing their uncle Paul shirts. Like, loved it.  Lil' Aaron didn't want to take them off.  That brought my heart much joy.  That, and the fact that they always ask to hear the 'Uncle Paul Song' (I Lived- One Republic).  Another cute thing, there was a commercial, with people paragliding...lil' Aaron said, 'Oh my gosh!  It's uncle Paul!'.  Cute huh?

"pregnancy brain" is a funny thing.  I especially loved last week, when I was talking on the phone with my sister downstairs and it was time to bring the kids upstairs.  While talking, I searched for a good five minutes for the phone.  It was super hard to find because I was talking to my sister on it.

I know you know, but the well meaning strangers who give advice on children/parenting...man, I'd like to punch them in the face.  
"Listen here lady, I know my kid is sucking on the Target cart handle, and I know it's probably super gross for you to see, but here's the thing, I've got a handful of them, so sometimes I pick my battles.  Oh, and my kids have kick butt immune systems"

I don't understand why people don't understand why talking on the phone is impossible for me, and I ALWAYS prefer email or text. I've got a 3, 2, and 1 year old.  One is always melting down.  Oh, and added to that, the 2 hours I MIGHT catch twice a week when they are sleeping at nap time, I don't want to spend talking on the phone with anyone. ever.   I know I am hormonal, but I have seriously considered throwing my phone out the window, or doing away with actual 'talk' minutes.  Sure, you don't prefer email/text, but guess what, I don't prefer voice talking....

so.... someone's a little cranky.

On that note, I'll let you carry on with your day!  

Monday, February 16, 2015

You Just Don't GET IT

I swear, if I hear one more “faithful Catholic” offering a critique of Pope Francis,  instead of challenging themselves to listen to what the shepherd is saying, and WATCH what the shepherd is doing… I think I’m gonna lose it. 

I’ve tried to be quiet, because I don’t want to offend.  But here’s a list of expressions in regard to Pope Francis that make me cringe…

“He just has to be more careful- he has no idea the weight of his words”

“He’s just not an intellectual, so he doesn’t realize the damage”

“He is using dangerous language, compromising the core of Catholic doctrine”

“I just wish he’d start using a script”

“He is leading people astray because he is too ambiguous”

“Silly Pope Francis, he has good intentions but just doesn't understand how his words are being interpreted”

“Someone needs to sit down with the Pope and explain to him how dangerous his words are”

I got a call from a family member the other day saying there’s a letter, signed by even RICK SANTORUM (gasp! j/k means nothing to me) begging the Holy Father to reconsider how he is approaching instruction.

Guess what?  The condescending critiques of the Pope from those who deem themselves protectors of truth are insulting, silly and transparent. 

Jesus is not afraid of this kind of scandal! He does not think of the closed-minded who are scandalized even by a work of healing, scandalized before any kind of openness, by any action outside of their mental and spiritual boxes, by any caress or sign of tenderness which does not fit into their usual thinking and their ritual purity. He wanted to reinstate the outcast, to save those outside the camp 
(cf. Jn 10).
- Pope Francis

This!  THIS!  The Holy Father had this to say to a room full of Cardinals last week.  And when I read it, I wanted to stand up all by myself in my family room and applaud.  LOUDLY.  My favorite part?  The SCANDAL of Jesus.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard Pope Francis and Scandal be used interchangeably by those who would consider themselves orthodox Catholics.

I’m gonna confess something that might make me lose my ‘Orthodox Catholic Card”.  The synod on the family, I LOVED it.  I even loved the early released edition that made all the fancy theologians nervous. I thought the language was awesome. I thought the language was intentional.  And I found the language, particularly on homosexuality and divorce to be extremely helpful. I didn't worry we were flying down a slippery slope, led by a careless leader who doesn't understand why intentional language is important.  In fact, I saw such wisdom, such beauty in the desire to use language to reach those who feel beyond the grasp of God’s love.  I celebrated, as a huge group of people panicked.  And I wondered… am I missing something or are they?  I now can say with certainty “they” are.  And perhaps, if you are one of them, YOU ARE!

Our culture is moving through profound changes.  We have gone, in a relatively short time, from being a culturally Christian community, to having no sense of black or white, truth or lies.  Warnings from spiritual leaders went unheeded and we now operate in a time of profound relativism and it effects EVERYTHING we do.  Instead of cursing the climate change, it’s time we recognize that a catechist's JOB is to speak to the climate. 

Through Pope Francis we are privy to watching a masterful catechist teach, teach to a confused and hurting world.  And yes, YES the confused and hurting world is misunderstanding some of what he says, but they are listening.  My gosh, wake up!  They are listening.  And it’s our job to help correct the misunderstandings now that the conversation has begun, rather then curse the fact that the conversation is happening. 

To those of you who choose to engage in the special breed of criticism of the Holy Father, the awkwardly passive aggressive choice of words that allows one to feel supportive of the Pope whilst admonishing his simple and misguided choices of language, I want to make something very clear for you.

The Holy Father isn't currently trying to get the attention of the faithful so we can smile and nod at each other, slapping each other high-five for our like-minded understanding of truth.  Rather, he is purposefully and effectively getting the attention of those who do not believe, those who have been hardened, those who have been led to believe that the Catholic Church is one of rules and distance- representing an unfeeling and uncaring God.  That’s who he is talking to. 

And ‘our’ job?  Our job is so darn exciting.  Our job is to take the content of teaching we have been blessed with, in a special way by Pope Benedict and Pope Saint John Paul II, and answer the questions of those who are listening.  Listening for the first time ever, or the first time in years, because our Holy Father, a saintly man of God has decided to speak to them.

And now, I’m just going to leave this right here.  I beg of you to let it challenge you- as it is challenging me.

"The Church’s way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement. This does not mean underestimating the dangers of letting wolves into the fold, but welcoming the repentant prodigal son; healing the wounds of sin with courage and determination; rolling up our sleeves and not standing by and watching passively the suffering of the world. The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for eternity; to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart. The way of the Church is precisely to leave her four walls behind and to go out in search of those who are distant, those essentially on the "outskirts" of life. It is to adopt fully God’s own approach, to follow the Master who said: "Those who are well have no need of the physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call, not the righteous but sinners" (Lk 5:31-32)."
- Pope Francis 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Make the phone call.

Make the phone call.
Just do it.  Don’t put it off, pick up the phone and send a text, or call the person you need to call.

Today would have been Paul’s 35th birthday.  Many of you know Paul, many of you have come to 
know him through weeks of social media updates.  You have prayed for a man you never met, but have shared you feel deeply connected to.  The suffering, death and celebration of life over the last few weeks has been a stunning show of the power of social media, the reality of the Body of Christ, and the profound ability we have to hold each other up, especially when one of us has fallen.  I have been moved to my core at the completely unexpected death of my dear friend.

Almost two months ago I wrote a blog asking you for prayers and financial support for someone who meant so much to me and my family, fully expecting that his fight would be hard, but that cancer was about to get it’s butt kicked.  He suffered well, like a champion actually, but in the end- Paul got to enter into the Heavenly Kingdom.  It might have been before so many of us would have chosen, but it is reality nonetheless.

So today is Paul’s birthday, and I want to be really honest with you about something.  Had history been different, and my friend today was alive and healthy down in Tennessee with his children and his wife, my dear friend Ann….I probably wouldn’t have even called him.  If I happened to get a moment of free time- I might have sent him a quick text, ‘Miss your face, happy birthday Paulie’… but, to tell you the truth, even that hasn’t happened the last couple years. You know how it is, all through the day, I’d think, ‘gotta text Paul’ (that is, if I noticed the date at all), but more than likely I would have forgot. 

We have spent countless birthdays celebrating each other’s birthdays when we lived in the same state, but as the years have gone by and life has changed with our zip codes, sending each other ‘Happy Birthday’ messages didn’t seem to be a priority.  But now, now I can’t.  Even if I wanted to.  Had these last two months been different, I probably wouldn’t have even thought of today being Paul’s birthday- but now, after all that has transpired…it is, of course, the only thing I can think of. 
Because I’d give anything to call my friend right now, hear his voice, wish him a ‘Happy 35th’ and see what he had planned for the day.  But I’ll never be able to do that again, at least not on this side of heaven.

So, I just wanted to tell you pick up the phone. Right now. Don’t wait.  Call the person you haven’t talked to in a few years that you loved from college.
Text the roommate you haven’t spoken to in a few weeks.
Shoot an email to the sibling who has been kind of annoying you the last couple months/weeks- the one who you can’t imagine your life without.
Send a letter to that person in your life who means so much and tell them how important they are to you.

Because, the truth is, I have learned a lot in the last two months, but one of the hardest lessons is just how precious this time we have here on earth together is.  I always knew it to a certain degree, but I profoundly feel it now.  And it’s just really important that we make those phone calls, send those texts and letters.  So go ahead and do it.  You won’t regret it.

Go to http://www.lovelikepaul.com to find out more about how you can wish Paul a Happy Birthday!

Friday, February 6, 2015

7 Quick Takes

Snow snow and more snow! I'm loving it and so are the wee ones :)
The kids and I are getting lots of bonding time in due to the weather. Lots. So much. Tons of the ol'bonding :)
The president and his newest accidental insult. I just can't even with this guy anymore. But I'm trying.
The amount of time I spend mentally thinking #livelikepaul to train my thoughts to be more charitable has to delight my dear friend in heaven. #livinglikepaul is hard.
Thank you Jesus for toy story/camping chairs and honey o's on mornings filled with sickness.
Thank you Jesus for pizza Friday!!!
If there is anything cuter than my big boys giving kisses to "the baby" at night- I'm not sure I know what it is.

Have a great week and link up with This Ain't the Lyceum (http://thisaintthelyceum.org) for more seven quick take phun!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The thing about grieving...

Grief is a funny thing. I've never lost anyone this close to me, this unexpectedly. 
In fact, I have never dealt with a loss like this my 34 years of life. 

These last couple weeks have been intense- I am sure some of you can relate.

For the last month and a half, but specifically the last two weeks, I have had this emotional feeling that something is very, very wrong.  And I can’t shake it.  You know, the feeling in the pit in your stomach?  When there is a national crisis, or you've done something wrong, or you are worried about a friend?  For the last two weeks- that feeling is constantly there.  It’s interesting to try to manage life with that feeling.  The feeling that something is very, very, wrong.

Speaking of managing life, it seems weird to me, for so many people, life is just proceeding as normal.  My cousin Judy, who has had too much experience in grief,  warned me about this a few weeks ago, when Paul’s illness seemed to be taking a turn for the worse.  She told me that life just keeps moving for other people. It’s almost like you anticipate the whole world is going to stop, but it doesn't (nor should it).  And that’s weird.  It’s weird that every single person on the planet wasn't profoundly rocked by Paul’s passing.  It’s made it a little hard.  For the past two weeks I have intentionally kind of laid low.  I plan on laying low the rest of this week as well. I know at a certain point I need to enter back into life moving on, but it doesn't seem right yet?  Does that make sense?

The reality is hard too.  
This picture right here. 
Photo by Jason Pohlmeier 
  It’s profound right? 
 It’s Paul’s brothers and his spiritual brothers, lowering his beautiful casket (made by Annie's brothers) into the ground.  I shared it on social media right after I saw it because it’s so beautiful.  A couple of days ago, the ‘Franciscan University Official Facebook Page’ shared it as well.  They said it celebrated the meaning of “household” (think Fraternities/Sororities and then add lots of Jesus).  When I saw it, on the FUS page, I could barely handle it.  Because it’s a picture of PAUL being lowered to the ground, you know? My friend Paul.  And it is sheer insanity, that my friend Paul is being remembered by our university, because 2 months ago, my friend Paul (as far as I knew) was just fine.  How intense is that? I can’t wrap my head around it.

And then, the other night, I figured out why I keep using words like, ‘weird’ and ‘surreal’ and ‘bizarre’ to describe my friend leaving so early and so quickly.  It helped frame things for me.  But, I’ll admit, it kind of left me at a loss.  You see, prior to our spontaneous hospital trip, I had not seen Paul in 1.5 years.  The last time I saw his family, our family had taken our big ‘Dave Ramsey’ trip to scream ‘WE’RE DEBT FREE’ on the radio.  Paul/Annie and the kids met us at the Financial Peace University.  The plan was we would go to the farm and spend the night after.  But, as these things go, I was 7 months pregnant, in the summer, after travel and frankly, I was so sick.  I decided we should just head back to Michigan rather than stay another night (how much of a bummer is that decision in retrospect?).  We called them and they were crazy understanding, so we headed back home. 

The thing is, in the last 5 years especially, we’d only see each other once a year if we were lucky.  Marriage, babies and living in different states kept us from seeing each other more than that.  An occasional text message/facebook message back and forth between Annie and I was the way we expressed our relationship. Paul’s family and my family didn't see each other regularly, or even contact each other as a norm.  It didn't make us less close- it’s just the nature of living across the US of A.

I share this because I finally realized why this is all so weird.  It was very possible for me to go days without thinking about Ann or Paul.  I never had to think about them too much, because I knew eventually we’d see them again.  And, when we did, it would be like no time had passed.  But then, on that terrible December day, when we found out about the extent of Paul’s cancer, it’s like everything shifted.  For the past month I have slept with my cell phone by my side, anxious for any type of update, praying at all hours of the night.  And now that Paul has gone to be with Jesus, I can almost think about nothing else.  I can’t stop thinking about how I will never see him here on earth, how quickly this all happened, and how it doesn't even seem real.  I wake up in the morning thinking about Paul and Annie (and the kids), I cry throughout the day, I go to bed checking social media/email/etc… to see pictures of my friend, stories about their family, anything to make me feel connected
And it’s hard.  Because I can’t believe all that has transpired, and I can’t believe I won’t be able to do what I always just took for granted… seeing my friend and his family whenever I wanted.  Whenever we planned.  It’s just unbelievable to me.  Like it is for so many of you.

But there has also been such beauty.

I have received so many messages from friends and family, even strangers.  Messages saying they are praying for Paul, that the witness of Paul’s fight brought them back to the faith.   People who haven’t prayed in months, or years, inspired by the love of Paul and Ann, turning their lives back to God. 

I have heard countless stories of people choosing to live differently because they want to be more like Paul.  They want to be remembered as being a person like Paul.  #livelikepaul is a hashtag, but it’s also becoming kind of a movement.  I’d love to say I was putting it in practice more- but I will say I am trying.  And my husband Aaron, who is naturally more selfless than me, is using #livelikepaul to encourage me when I get selfish.  #livelikepaul is changing lives.  My ministry partner is going to use it as a basis for a workshop this weekend.  Isn’t that awesome?

 And then, there is the financial support of Annie and the kids.  Paul tried to get life insurance, but for reasons not really in his total control, he couldn't make it happen.  Good people have put their heads together and come up with a great idea to help financially support Paul’s family. I know so many of you have helped with the gofundme site, and the youcaring site, and the registry. My gosh, a friend of mine who had never met Paul provided a meal for the workers on the house- it moved me to tears! 

 The generosity of so many of you has been amazing, but I've got to ask for your help once more.

Go check out the website LOVELIKEPAUL.COM (see what they did there) and prayerfully consider if this is an endeavor you can help with.  
 I know money is tight for a lot of us, and I know budgeting can be difficult, but I love that this site gave us options.  Aaron and I will be giving a monthly donation to the Coakley family, as they begin to relearn life without Paul’s physical presence. I know it is entirely too much to ask, but would some of you consider doing it with me?  I really believe we have a primary responsibility as Christians to help each other.  Watching Annie and the kids be taken care of these last few weeks has truly restored some of my faith in humanity.  But more than that, I am excited to do something I know Paul would want from me (and others) to make sure his family is taken care of. 

Grief is an ugly beast I have never met so intimately.  I asked my husband the other night, ‘when is this feeling going to go away?’ and he didn’t have an answer.  But working together, with maybe some of your help, can at least help us to begin to reignite some of the light that was lost on January 20th.

Photo by Janell Brake Miank of one of the very last times I looked at my friend's face 
Thanks for reading… consider sharing the link on your facebook wall so that we can get Annie’s financial needs met, while she continues to meet God with her broken heart.